There’s something satisfying about sitting in a tractor-drawn tourist train being dragged around the streets of a seaside town and hearing the guide describe the hotel you’re staying in as posh and the guests as lucky.
Especially if you’re about to make your way back there after a spot of lunch at one of the waterside restaurants.
Only older children are allowed upstairs in the play centre at Calcot. The winding staircase from the soft toy area where smiley ladies help babies play with trains even has a gate little fingers can’t open.
Up there in the mini loft with its scatter-cushioned cinema and football table, everything is X-boxed and Playstationed to the rafters. A teenage dream.
Sometimes the star grading system can be a bit of a misnomer and should be considered as a standard rather than an expectation, much like the Premiership football league; there are teams which continue to be brilliant, and then there are the rest.
In the heart of Mayfair, just set back from Park Lane and a few paces from Hyde Park and Knightsbridge, sits the 5-star Four Seasons hotel.
Draped luxuriously over the side of a pretty cliff amid foliage and trees, the hotel cascades towards the Illetes coastline of Palma Bay.
The décor echoes Spanish Castilian style with wood floors, low-beamed ceilings, red carpets, stone walls and burgundy upholstered seats. Precious porcelain and antiques in nooks and crannies are lorded over by suits of armour.
When Tina Green was looking for somewhere to hold Sir Philip’s £5 million, 50th birthday bash, she picked the Anassa, taking over the 177-room Cyprus property and flying in a slew of celebrity guests to entertain the Topshop boss.
You can see why. Designed as a kind of faux Provencal village (though not many of those have £15 million lavished on them for renovation and refitting), it has a main building and a series of whitewashed, pastel-shuttered villas set amid luxuriant gardens.
It took an open-top car snug enough for two, a healthy breeze and miles of unbroken road to get this Mr Toad out of Toad Hall and off to Chelsea-on-Sea. And with a poop-poop and glassy-eyed visions of million-pound designer beach huts, he was on his way up the A1 to the Fens, planning the perfect day in a perfect town where Orwell once lived and the seagulls sound just a little posher than those over Southend.
If there is any downside to a weekend break, it can be the long shlep back which has a tendency to undo all the chilling you might have achieved during your sojourn in some gorgeous country house hotel.
George IV is indirectly responsible for much of the sheer fabulousness that is Villa D’Este, the legendary Italian hotel on the shores of Lake Como. If, as Prince of Wales in 1795, he had not rejected his bride, Princess Caroline of Brunswick, within months of their wedding, his neglected wife would not have sought solace at this ravishing spot where the Dolomites meet the most northerly of Italy’s shimmering lakes.
Lower Slaughter Manor, in the Cotswolds village of Lower Slaughter, is described on its website as displaying “regal luxury”. Not just any old luxury; “regal luxury”. The village so perfectly fulfils the imagined idea we all have of the Cotswolds that it might have been created by Disney. It wasn’t; it’s real. And the drive through the Cotswolds to reach Lower Slaughter is as beautiful a drive as England has to offer.
The first sight of the hotel is imposing and tantalising.